In search of a lost treasure in the loft, we find everything but – Susan Morrison

Susan Morrison’s CIA-style raid on her own attic draws a blank
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We have lost a very important document, and when I say ‘we’ I mean the Yorkshire husband and myself. This is not a solo effort on my part. Important things have been filed, like our marriage certificate. This is handy since every year we both tend to forget if it was the 21st or the 22nd.

Also filed are the children’s birth certificates, again useful to recall the exact day, since both birthdays are the 21st and the 22nd in different months. I’m not sure why these two dates should figure so prominently in our family, but I can tell you this, they’re rubbish numbers for the lottery.

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All these have been carefully squirrelled away, but one scrap of paper has vanished, and it turns out, it's worth a bob or two. A new kitchen beckons with the reckoning. There was an outside chance that it had been bunged in the loft. The day we moved in, we hauled our uncatalogued repository of paper up the ladder with a cry of “we’ll sort this out one day”.

Don't be fooled by minimalist interior design. Somewhere there's a cupboard full of junk (Picture: Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images)Don't be fooled by minimalist interior design. Somewhere there's a cupboard full of junk (Picture: Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images)
Don't be fooled by minimalist interior design. Somewhere there's a cupboard full of junk (Picture: Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images)

Bet most families are like that. I was watching ‘Scotland’s Home of the Year’ the other week. All that minimalist design and clutter-free living. Don’t believe a word of it. Somewhere there’s a loft or cubby hole bung fu’ of the drawings that came back from nursery, even though the artist is now well into adulthood and has abandoned that expressionist style when it comes to doing a portrait of mummy.

We hit that loft like a pair of CIA agents. Yep, the clutter was epic. There is a view in our house, and indeed many families, that hoarding is a female trait. Not a bit of it. Paper does not pass through the hands of the man I married into the bin or shredder.

Instead, it’s stashed away and I have lugged it from home to home without bothering to check what is actually in those cardboard boxes and ring bind folders. He’s fond of a ring binder. Well, we both are, to be honest. We used to nick them from work, along with the notepads and pens.

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Freebie stationery was a perk of clerical life at that time. Every November we used to bung in an order for Sellotape, so everyone could get a roll for Christmas wrapping. No idea how the modern office worker copes. All those paper-free offices and working from home. Just have to steal your own pens, and there’s no fun in that.

He’s kept everything, including insurance documents for our old Rover 820, long gone to the scrap heap. There are pay slips from a job he had when flares were in fashion. A leaving card from a bloke named ‘Derek’. No, he’s got no idea. Why? I finally asked, exasperated by statements from a bank that doesn’t even exist anymore. “Oh,” he said, “In case they ask if I keep records. They can, you know. Kick the door down and everything.”

So, apparently we’ve been living under a ton of paper because there could be a midnight SWAT mission demanding to see the guarantee for the microwave we binned in 1999. Well, bring it, door kickers. I’ve binned the lot. Kept the drawings, obviously.

And no. We didn’t find the one valuable bit of paper.